The holiday season is almost upon us – so we can’t put off Christmas planning another day. We’re busy enough already and life becomes even more hectic than usual when the holidays arrive. Thanks to all of that holiday activity, we tend to overdo and then the ho ho ho can quickly become bah humbug!
If you’re dreading the overwhelming tasks ahead of you this holiday season, don’t despair. I want to share some early Christmas planning ideas with you that will reduce stress and save your sanity.
5 Early Christmas Planning Tips to Save Your Sanity
You would think with the beauty of this holiday that it would be a time of reflection, a time to sit in front of a crackling fire and drink hot cocoa and snuggle beneath a thick, fluffy throw. That’s a Hallmark card.
Reality is we’re the ones behind the scene dragging in the firewood, lighting the fire, shopping for the cocoa ingredients, unpacking the Christmas throws from the attic, airing them out, giving them a wash.
Some organizing experts advise you to de-stress the season by starting your holiday planning in July. What?! That’s simply not do-able for most of us ordinary humans who don’t think that far ahead, so I like to shoot for 8 weeks in advance. Here are 5 planning tips to help you stay sane during the ramp up to Christmas.
Make a Christmas planner.
Grab a notebook, binder or bullet journal, and set up your holiday pages, calendars, and to-do lists. Decide what really must be done in order of importance and list it on a “brain dump” page. Create a second list for what you’d like to get done but can live without if you don’t get around to it. Because the Christmas holiday encompasses so many different aspects, you need a game plan that deals with it all so that nothing falls between the cracks.
Here are some ideas for what to include in your holiday planner:
>Christmas decorations (outside/inside)
>Gift and stocking stuffer ideas
>Menus, recipes, and shopping list
>Budget and spending tracker
>Greeting Card list and addresses
>Holiday events and traditions
>Notes on what to improve for next Christmas
Start decorating after Halloween.
Most of us wait until after Thanksgiving to put up outdoor lighting but then depending on your climate, you may have to deal with cold, snow or heavy rain, which is no fun and may even be dangerous. Another benefit of starting early: if you need more lights or replacement bulbs the stores won’t be crowded and the shelves won’t be empty. Less hassle, less stress.
If you like, you can wait to throw the switch on those lights until after Thanksgiving. Or, your family can enjoy the decorations for a longer stretch. Inside, you can start with Thanksgiving decor, such as gold gilded acorns and leaves, which will still look lovely come December. The Thanksgiving themes of gratitude, peace, and sharing are a sweet entree to true meaning of the holiday season.
Get a handle on gift-giving.
Is your gift list getting out of control? Maybe you started out with a few family and friends and you’ve added in-laws and neighbors and Secret Santa peeps over time. You may have to bow out of some gift-giving rituals. Ask your family if they even want to exchange gifts or if it would be a relief not to. Some couples forgo gifts in favor of one big purchase, like a new refrigerator to replace the one that’s on its last legs.
Some large families decide to buy gifts only for the little ones, or to draw names so that everyone buys only one gift. Maybe you like to buy small “just because” gifts for each other throughout the year. Then the emphasis (and the pressure) isn’t all on this one day of the year, Christmas. You may get some resistance to making changes so discuss your ideas with family and friends way in advance so there are no hard feelings.
Shop online or make it yourself.
If you can avoid crowded malls by shopping early, so much the better. But you might be best served by shopping online, and having gifts wrapped and shipped directly to the recipients. That way, you also save time by not having to bother with sorting through wrapping paper and boxes, then standing in long lines at the post office to mail packages. You’ll have such a sense of relief when passing by stores in November and December, knowing that you don’t have to go in unless you want to. You can just enjoy the Christmas music and window displays, without any stress.
If you’re the crafty type, you might decide to make gifts for family and friends. They’re extra meaningful and fun to create. Or if enjoy cooking, friends and neighbors will welcome your homemade cookies or holiday goods. Even children can help make gourmet cocoa and marshmallows.
Be true to your celebration style.
Some people are true Christmas fanatics and love to celebrate big. I think of these folks as Griswold Christmas families. They never stop decorating and shopping (for next years gifts!) and going to raucous holiday gatherings. There are other people who are Christmas minimalists and they like to focus on slowing down and savoring the sights and sounds of the season. You’ll find them baking holiday goodies and warming hot chocolate for a cozy evening at home with close friends and family.
Both types of celebrating are wonderful ways to sail through the holidays. Don’t feel like you have to add obligatory to-do’s to your Christmas planning list. When you declutter your holiday planner by crossing out those items that aren’t meaningful or enjoyable, you’re almost guaranteed a merrier Christmas.
So, what are your early Christmas planning tips and tricks?